This letter arrived 6th November 2000:
Newsletter -Non Payment to authors.
I was interested to read the problem of non-payment of monies due to
an author from the publisher.
I am also aware of an author who is a friend with a similar tale to
tell about non payment of
royalties on a book written by that person and for royalties due on
other books for which the author
holds the copyright. It seems that this might be a common problem.
If the publisher refuses to pay
- there are a never ending list of reasons that the more untrustworthy
ones use for not doing so -
it is, as I see it almost impossible to get recompense. The sums
involved are usually small and
resorting to law would not seem to be an option as the cost would
probably outweigh what could be
One excuse used by small publishers is that they have to get
production costs back first before they
pay royalties - contracts need to be studied carefully to see that
this cannot happen. I personally
have always believe that the contract should state that an agreed
amount of royalty should be paid
on every book sold regardless of the costs of the publisher. But even
then one generally has to
rely on the honesty of the publisher to account for how many books
have been sold. I have not been
directly invoved in publishing by a second party so have no great
experience of contracts etc. but
from what I have learned of publishing from other peoples experience
it is a minefield and the
publisher holds most of the cards.
I would certainly be interested if anyone has an answer to this
problem so that I could pass it on
to the author who is being deprived of their just royalties.
From: Frederick Lane E-mail:email@example.com The webmaster would
be very interested to hear of any other similar experience and any
method of redress that has been discovered which can be added to this
I suggest contacting the Society of Authors for such advice. I
must say that, on the whole (after seven books) I had little
trouble with publishers. They do need a bullet occasionally to
remind them that their bills do need paying!
A good technique is the rather horrid modern one of 'Naming and
Shaming'. If the Society of Authors - or yourselves, if you think
you have 'the clout' - mentions the offenders in print (and after
all a copy letter without a response would constitute proof of
non-payment), they can hardly be surprised if their Authors were
advise their friends not to use them!
This reply came from
firstname.lastname@example.org who is willing to be
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